Poughkeepsie High School could move from Section 1 to Section 9 for the 2014-15 school year today when the Section 9 Athletic Council votes on the Pioneers’ pending membership.
That council meets at 9:30 a.m. at Orange County BOCES in Goshen. The Poughkeepsie City School District Board of Education voted unanimously, 5-0, to apply to become a member of Section 9 and its Mid-Hudson Athletic League on Monday.
“It’s time to make a move,” Poughkeepsie Board of Education President Ralph Coates said during Monday’s meeting.
“In my opinion and I think the board would agree, the pros greatly outweighed the cons as far as Section 9,” Coates told the Journal after the meeting. “We’re excited that our students will be given the opportunity to play schools closer in the area and get home a little earlier at night. This is really about our student-athletes.”
The New York State Public High School Athletic Association divides its member schools into 11 geographic sections within which teams compete for local and regional titles.
Section 9 consists of teams in Dutchess, Ulster, Orange and Sullivan counties. Section 1 consists of teams in Dutchess, Westchester, Rockland and Putnam counties. Should Poughkeepsie officially make the move, the only remaining Dutchess County schools in Section 1 would be Arlington, John Jay, Roy C. Ketcham, Beacon and Pawling, as well as Our Lady of Lourdes, a private school, which has already applied for entry into Section 9 for next year.
Key points presented last week to the Board of Education by Poughkeepsie Athletic Director Matt Cameron included a cost analysis that the district would save $6,228.02 annually — $3,520.02 on transportation, $1,972 on officials and $736 on dues. Also cited were leagues based on enrollment; avoiding traffic in Westchester County; students being able to get home earlier after road games; having a chance to host league and sectional championships; and that a majority of Dutchess County schools have joined Section 9.
“Our goal is to cultivate student-athletes and scholar-athletes,” Poughkeepsie Superintendent Nicole Williams said, praising the board’s move and Cameron’s recommendation.
Cameron said Poughkeepsie looked at a move several years ago, but entering the MHAL — where Section 9’s Dutchess and Ulster teams play — was not an option offered by Section 9.
“Looking at it from an entire athletic program, I think our kids will benefit from playing schools that are close by,” Cameron said. “I think our parents will be able to support our kids even more than they are already do by being able to get there, as opposed to traveling to Westchester or Putnam County.”
Jim Osborne, Section 9’s secretary and treasurer, told the Journal last week that an affirmative vote was likely should Poughkeepsie approve the move.
“The leagues have discussed it very favorably,” Osborne said. The Section 9 Athletic Council, which will vote on the item, consists of 15 people.
A vote on Lourdes’ application into Section 9 has not been announced. Arlington’s board of education rejected a move to Section 9 for next year on Nov. 12, citing increased participation numbers for cross country and track and field in Section 1. Pawling discussed a move as recently as two weeks ago, but will not apply for Section 9 for next year. Beacon is still examining a move. The Wappingers Central School District — home to John Jay and Ketcham — is not applying.
The deadline for districts to apply for Section 9 is Saturday.
Dover was the most recent Dutchess County school to bolt from Section 1 to Section 9, in 2012. That was the first expansion since Hyde Park’s Franklin D. Roosevelt jumped from Section 1 in 2003. Rhinebeck, Pine Plains, Millbrook, Spackenkill and Webutuck made the move together in 1998. Red Hook is a longtime member of Section 9.